Taylor Tries the Ignight Flow Festival 2018
Between teaching and performing, I didn’t get a lot of time to shoot footage at this festival, but I did manage to capture some moments that I found extremely beautiful. Check out the video I made above!
The IgNight Flow Retreat
The IgNight Flow Retreat Festival is an annual 4 day long event at Joshua Tree Retreat Center. It focuses around “flow arts”, which means different things to different people, but overall tends to describe movement-based disciplines such as poi, staff, fire spinning, dance, and certain styles of juggling. The Ignight Festival is especially geared towards beginners looking to take a variety classes.
Being a traditional toss juggler, I haven’t had much experience with the flow community (or flow arts at all for that matter). But when my friend Marvin asked if I’d be interested in teaching and performing at the Ignight Festival, I thought it was a good opportunity to try something I had never tried before.
As I said above, I’m pretty much a traditional toss juggler, meaning I mostly just throw stuff up and catch it. My style of juggling doesn’t tend to focus on movement, or flow in any way, and I also haven’t had much experience with other props such as poi, staff, or hoops. I’ve really only ever been to purely juggling festivals, and as I headed into IgNight I noticed I had a lot of assumptions of what it would be like. From the people to the activities themselves, I felt like I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into. I was wrong in so many ways.
How was I wrong? Well, to answer that question you have to understand something about the toss juggling community. Toss jugglers often tend to look down on the “flow arts” (at least here in America). Many see poi as a less complicated (and thus less interesting), abnoxiously space consuming, awkward prop. They see poi spinners are hippies who don’t push themselves to do the harder stuff because they’re always high out of their minds.
I admit, that’s pretty much how I saw flow arts going into the IgNight festival.
I was fairly convinced I would walk into that festival and have very little in common with anyone there. I figured everyone would be doing boring basic moves with poi and staff and I’d be able to learn everything they knew in an hour and move on. That being said, I was also very open to having my mind changed. And even though I had those stereotypes in my brain, I also didn’t judge people for choosing that way to enjoy object manipulation. I’ve never been one to treat people differently or make fun of them just because they enjoy something I don’t, and I highly disapprove of any such behavior within any community. But, admittedly, I did assume I understood what the flow arts mindset and community was all about… and boy was I wrong.
Instead of encountering a bunch of people who just wanted to chill and dance with basic manipulation movements, I found myself surrounded by people practicing things I couldn’t even comprehend. As I walked the campground I’d hear conversations nerding out about planes, angles, and beats. People pushing themselves to try a trick with complicated arm and wrist movements. It felt oddly familiar. They felt like… jugglers.
I was also surprised at the diversity of attendees. There were definitely the traditional “hippie” festival goers. There was more marijuana related clothing being worn than I would see at a toss juggling festival for sure. But there were also a lot of people there who didn’t fit that mold. I met people from many different backgrounds. From engineers, to farmers, to computer programmers, to martial artists. Many of the people there reminded me of people I’d meet at a toss juggling festival.
I know you might be thinking, “why is that so surprising?” but you have to understand that for the past 10 years I’ve been told what to expect from the flow community, and why I should avoid it by other jugglers. I’ve heard people making fun of poi spinners and scoffing at fire spinning. I feel ashamed to admit that I had those stereotypes ingrained in me, but I am also proud to admit that I’ve grown as a person and learned a lot from this experience.
I also tried my hand at some poi spinning while I was there. And you know what I learned? That stuff is hard. Way harder and vast than I thought it would be. It’s also really enjoyable. And from now on when I go to a juggling festival, you can bet I’m going to practice my flow arts and encourage other people to be more tolerant of it as well.
To learn more about the IgNight festival, check out their website: www.ignight.com
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